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Monday, October 21, 2013


Seppuku ronin know how obsessed we are with Halloween and all things horror related. In the past we've set aside October 31st as a day where we gave away free Halloween tattoos, each artist picking a single winner based on the best tattoo idea. We are going to do thing a little differently this year, as this will be our last year with Matt Lukesh, and his schedule being completely booked between now and the end of the year. 

This year, I have set aside all Halloween Day for walk ins, and will do any piece off of these three flash sheets I've compiled for our minimum set up charge, which everyone knows is $50. I'm willing to spend anywhere from one to three hours on each piece, a value of between $150 to $450. I may be talked into doing something not on the sheets, but only if its as cool or cooler than the pieces assembled here. 

Anyone asking for lettering, quotes, or names to be added to the tattoo during this offer with be disposed of mimicking every death in every Friday the 13th movie all at the same time. 

Thanks for all of your continued support, and have a great Halloween season. 

Johnny Thief

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seppuku Tattoo wants YOU!

Ohayo gozaimasu Seppuku Ronin! I apologize for the lack of blogging, but the studio has been consistently slammed. We have been to two Hell City Conventions, a weekend of tattoo seminars, a paint jam at Off The Map, Ali was in Switzerland getting tattooed by Filip Leu, and a host of other events that have kept us all spinning and jet lagged.

I'm bumping my blogs about lettering tattoos and tattoo TV shows, give them a read.

After a very successful partnership spanning three studios over eight years, Seppuku Tattoo is saying goodbye to Matthew Lukesh at the end of this year. Matt is relocating to Iowa, specifically the Platinum Rose Tattoo Gallery, owned by the extremely talented and handsome Josh Fields. 

In early 2012 we were on a search for new talent which netted us one Ali Chin Chin, and we wrote this blog citing what it was we were looking for.

Matt has some pretty big shoes to fill, so we will be looking at a lot of people. Let me take a few minutes to give you a run down of Seppuku Tattoo, and why it would make a great home for another world class artist or two.

Seppuku began in 2005 and is in its eighth year. We build a new studio in Savannah, Georgia, in an attempt to open in a city that hadn't yet been over run by shops, and also to honor our non compete contracts. Almost immediately we started traveling, attending events and winning awards. Johnny took off to attend the CMJ Music Festival, where he was a guest of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame the very first week we opened our doors. The first month we were open, we crashed the Prick Magazine Tattoo Party at the Jinx in Savannah, and Johnny took the shop's first award for Best Small Color. The Savannah shop was set up as a gallery, and hosted a series of art shows that included Jeral Tidwell, Johnny Crap, Rob Schwager, Brian Morris, Jason Goad, author Paul Grushkin, Brian Ewing, Stainboy, Jason Cooper, and of course Jeff Wood. Now free from being dictated to by our former owners, we expanded our art, began studying painting techniques again, and incorporating fine art theory into the tattooing. Matt's paintings transformed dramatically. They had formerly been based on tattoo flash styled imagery, and shot forward into proper fine art. Matt's tattoos likewise took giant leaps forward, especially being able to experiment in way we had been forbidden to do before. For example, we were never allowed to tattoo color portraits. Now Matt is known internationally for his brand of realism, having clients travel from as far away as Amsterdam. Not to be outdone, Johnny found himself being asked to paint the cover of Skin & Ink Magazine in December 2009. We would be onstage painting in the Wet Paint Projects at Hell City and at the Mad Hatter's conventions, and at closed door all day Paint Jams at Keith Ciaramello's Kustom Kulture Gallery.

Seppuku worked hard to be included in the very ethnocentric Savannah society. We hosted a number of late night fetish balls and sponsored a number of live concerts. We were at the Trustee's Theatre with Paul Grushkin as he presented his coffee table sized tour de force, 'The Art of Modern Rock', to an audience of hundreds. We held a poster show with a number of the book's artists at the Jinx. The studio participated in art shows in Charleston, including a number of poster shows, and the Munny Show. We held book signings, participated in art shows, and Johnny even performed a Halloween wedding at the studio. For all our efforts, and how well received each event was, we felt that Savannah was just not for us, and we moved home after a five year run.

Seppuku attended a number of conventions, particularly proud to be invited to the ones run by our peers, like Durb Morrison's Hell City Tattoo Expos, and Billy Easton's Richmond Tattoo Convention. Normally we are the kind of people that scoff at awards, but on the other hand, it is fun to take an award from a show surrounded by so many peers. Or taking nearly every award, like we did at the Savannah Harley Davidson Haunted Coast Run. We also received a sizable amount of attention from the magazines, notably Skin & Ink, International Tattoo Arts, Tattoo Society, Tattoo Energy, Tattoo Savage, Tattoo Revue, all the Outlaw Biker publications, and a number of Best Of issues. Matt is published in books from the Publishers of Bizarre Magazine, including 'The World's Most Incredible Tattoos'. Both Johnny and Matt appear in 'Cranial Visions', and other artist compilation books. Johnny and Matt also are quoted in Chris Dingwell's book, 'Inside Out'. Johnny's introduction to the book is actually cited by a number of book reviews. 

Johnny continued to move in his former worlds, attending a number of events as a poster artist for Drowning Creek studios. In addition to the Rock Hall Show in Cleveland, he also attended the TRPS Festival in Golden Gate State Park in 2008, and Stainboy Reinel's book signing and poster show in Orlando, The Living Dead Dolls Show in NYC, and a CBGB's Benefit Art Show just prior to their closing. He's been published in a stack of books about rock art, has artwork that appears in Guitar Hero 3, had a poster turned into a DVD for the All American Rejects, and created a poster for Hot Topic's GH promotions. His first paying writing gig was for an article on the release of the 'Art of Modern Rock' book. Johnny is sent photos of people tattooing his posters on them from as far away as South Africa. 

Seppuku has had the honor of hosting great guest artists, including Josh Fields, Dee Dee Seruga, and the aforementioned Chris Dingwell. We've had a number of tattooists & poster artists travel to receive work from us. We also hosted the multi talented Dingwell teaching his 'Painting Without Fear' seminar at the studio for a closed door all day event. Each Seppuku artist is dedicated to getting work from great tattooists as part of the learning process. Some of the artists we've collected from include Filip Leu, Horiyoshi 3, Bugs, Jeff Gogue, Paul Booth, Sean Herman, Josh Duffy, Nick Baxter, Joe Capobianco, Chris O'Donnell, Tomo, Josh Fields, and Ivana Belakova. Ali and Johnny are committed to traveling overseas to continue their collections. 

Seppuku is in Bloomingdale, NJ. We chose the locale for two main reasons; legality, as its still illegal to tattoo in portions of NJ, and the fact that's its not near anyone else, almost an impossibility in this day and age. Although in a sleepy town in the hills, we're right off several main highways, and only 30 minutes outside of NYC. We enjoy being able to attend art shows, gallery openings, conventions, seminars, as well as everything else New York offers, but come home to lakes, rivers, and great hiking. 

In the future, we plan on continuing as we always have, creating great art in all mediums, and creating a great space to get tattooed in. We plan on doing more things outside our doors, as our space isn't quite the art gallery the old joint was. We plan on continuing traveling, both as tourists, collectors, and as tattooists. We will continue to abide by the bushi code of honor, loyalty and trust. We will be enemies of the status quo and killers of mediocrity. We have great plans for the studio, and great plans require great artists. 

If you're tired of walking the demon road of meifumado as an assassin for hire, there can be no better place to call home than Seppuku Tattoo. All qualified ronin, please contact Johnny Thief at Domo arigato gozaimasu!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Turning Japanese,...

Ohayo gozaimasu! Hajimemashite. Watashi wa tato~uatisuto Johnny Dorobo desu,... nihongo ga sukoshi wakarimasu, demo mata jozu ja arimasen,... so I'll stick to English, and tell you about the trip I took to the eight islands of Nihon, my Japanese trip last December.

Being Seppuku Tattoo, all things Japanese permeate our daily lives, from art, manga, anime, tattoos, movies, fashion, motorcycles, culture, food, drink, and ethics. It was only natural that I would want to visit and delve into as many of the Japanese cultures as I could, from sampling their world famous cuisine to getting traditional irezumi from the most honorable horishi.

I can't say enough about my tour guide, Crystal Morey. Originally from Austin, Crystal has lived in Japan since the 90's, and is the owner of Gomineko Books, exporting rare historical periodicals to the tattoo community globally. She has an undying love for her adopted country and all of its timeless traditions. She is also heavily tattooed, has befriended many of the most prominent tattooists, and runs tours specifically designed for gaigin tattooers like myself to see Japan as only we can. She acts as interpreter, tour guide, history buff, manners coach, and if you're not careful, will also drink you under the table or kick your ass at a karaoke showdown. She does a number of tours during the year, with a maximum roster of fifteen, and in a number of cities, from Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. If you want to see a side of Japan that very few tourists ever will, or have always wanted to collect the tattoo work of some of the best artists on the planet, by all means, book a Gomineko tour. I would have been one lost and clueless otaku without her. I only wish there was a Crystal for every country I want to visit.

Crystal Morey:

The video below shadows my trip eerily. Its filmed by renown traditional old school master Marcus Kuhn, & is just one of this installments of the Gypsy Gentlemen tattoo travel series he's been producing. Take a look, both the tattoo studios I was tattooed at are represented. (Stop the film at  8:16 and see my poster collection I brought as omiyage in Horiyoshi 3's studio!) I believe he was there just a week after I was. This video is reposted with his permission, domo arigato gozaimasu Marcus San!

The Gypsy Gentleman Episode 7: Japan Part 1:

I'm including a number of links to sites, videos, and photo galleries to give you more of a feel for all the amazing sites we explored.

• We stayed in Shinjuku, the famous red light district, down the block from the Japanese version of CBGB's, Antilock. 

• We learned to navigate the extensive subway system, and visited Harajuku, Shibuya, Yokohama, Kamakura, and a number of seaside towns. 

• We partook in cleansing and money washing (zeniarai) rituals at Shinto shrines, viewed traditional weddings of samurai families at the Meiji Shrine, and climbed into the mountains to visit the Nikko National Park, a world heritage site. 

• We climbed inside the largest buddha statue in Japan at the Kotokuin Temple. 

• We visited a ukiyo-e woodblock print museum. 

• We burned incense at the gravesite of the Forty Seven Ronin. 

• We went underground in the Benten-kutsu Caves at the Hasedera Temple. 

• We climbed through hundreds of torii to the Sasuke Inari Shrine. 

• We turned into children at the Studio Ghibli Museum. 

• We rode a bullet train to the Gunma prefecture, where we painted at a daruma factory, and watched Steve experience tebori at the hands of sensei Horimasa. 

• We ate at fantastic restaurants, izakaya, ramen houses, famuresu, Indian, sushi bars, manga kissu, and a host of bars, watering holes, and karaoke rooms. We ate at a theme restaurant called the Lock Up, where your hostess handcuffs one of your party and escorts them to a prison cell to eat. 

• We drank at a west coast styled bar called Tombstone, on the night that visitors from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and California were celebrating after the Moon Eyes 21st Yokohama Custom Car Show. 

• We crossed Shibuya's famous scramble crossing in front of the statue of Hachikō.

• We ended up at David Lynch's Musuem Exhibit at the Laforet in Harajuku. 

• We sang karaoke with tebori master, sensei Horimyo, who blew me out of the water. 

• And, of course, I got tattooed.

Horiyoshi 3 is the godfather of Japanese tattooing, an apprentice of the second Horiyoshi, who's master was practicing ancient tebori (Japanese hand tattooing) before World War 1. He is considered to be not only one of the most skilled tattooists on the planet, but a living lifeline to tattooing's prehistoric past. In the book, 'Bushido: The Legacy of Japanese Tattoo', Horiyoshi 3 explains a series of ideals and ethics that we at Seppuku have used as the cornerstone of our careers and how we treat our customers. Just one examples is the fact that sensei Horiyoshi 3 hasn't raised his prices in decades, despite the fact that droves of people are continually making pilgrimages from across the globe to his humble Yokohama studio to sit at the feet of the grand master. His outlook is that people are making a sacrifice of pain, endurance and money to wear his art and carry it to the grave, so he honors their dedication and makes himself available to everyone, including those of humble means. (Not price gouging gullible star fuckers like some tattoo reality TV stars we could name.) I've dreamt about meeting honorable Horiyoshi 3 ever since I put on my first tattoo in 2000, and to sit in the same studio featured in the books I've studied all these years was simply mind blowing. 

My tattoo, placed on one of my hands that I create my art with, is a namakubi, or severed head. The final act of a formal seppuku ceremony is when the kaishakunin, the second, cuts off the head of the bushi warrior who has finished slicing open his own belly. The tattoo has multiple meanings, but is meant as a tribute to both my dedication to the studio and to the samurai code of chivalry. 

We visited Horiyoshi 3's Tattoo Museum, not far from his Yokohama studio. The museum is a huge collection of tattoo artifacts and memorabilia from around the planet and across the ages, donated by hundreds of artists who have made the pilgrimage to sit at the grand master's feet. Although I was tagging Seppuku stickers everywhere I went, and using them as senjafuda at the shrines, the highlight was when Horiyoshi's wife asked us to add to her sticker collection on the front of the building.

I chose Yellow Blaze as the second place I wanted to be tattooed. I've long admired Shige's meteoric rise to being one of the youngest new stars to be included in the best tattooists in the world. Shige is currently not accepting new clientele, but I felt that his apprentice, Tomo, was easily also one of the most skilled horishi in Nihon. I had planned two days in a row, and wanted a jigoku-dayo, (courtesan of Hell), and scheduled enough time for a sizable piece. Tomo was taken with the idea of taking the idea and turning it into a project, and convinced me to let him take up the entire leg, from hip to ankle. I agreed, as a tattoo artist, I know that giving the art as much room to breath is vital. But also, the courtesan's robes are embroidered with scenes from buddhist hell, demons torturing souls, and the largest the robes, the more art that can be shown. Naturally return trips will be necessary to complete the art.

Not enough can be said about the trip. Even at ten days it was impossibly short. This marks one of many trips I'm planning that involve getting tattooed by masters in their home countries. If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to ask.

Ja mata! Johnny Thief


Nikko National Park :

Zeniarai Benten Shrine:ō